Six ways for US to reset relations in the Middle East
The United States has an image problem in the Middle East. Years of supporting regional dictators and occupying Iraq, in the name of US strategic interests, have undermined influence. It is actually a US strategic interest to stand up for democracy. Initiating military action in Libya makes a transparent vision for engagement in the region even more imperative. Foreign policy expert Adam Hinds lists the five decisive steps President Obama must take reset regional relations and ensure US security.
3. Show commitment and funding for civilian, not just military, needs
Display the commitment and strength normally reserved for military expenditures to support civilian needs. The government spends over $5 billion per year on military assistance in the region. US assistance should focus on a youth development strategy – including promoting entrepreneurship and private-public partnerships – to assist the 63 percent of the regional population that is under 29 with unemployment rates twice the world average.
The recently announced review of US military contributions in the region is a good start if it reallocates funding to directly support the people. Overcoming years of powerlessness and humiliation due to frustrated opportunity, corruption, and poor economic prospects will not be easy. But in a region known for culturally prioritizing children, US assistance is a significant signal of support.